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Carolan-Grundy, Carolan's Concerto

Carolan-Grundy, Carolan's Concerto

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Carolan's Concerto by Turlough O’Carolan

Concerto by Turlough O’Carolan arranged for solo guitar by Alan Grundy.

Carolan’s Concerto

Many of Turlough O’Carolan’s pieces have interesting stories relating to them and Carolan’s Concerto (in my opinion) has one of the best.

Turlough O’Carolan (1670 – 1738) – His life span makes him a contemporary of the composers Bach, Vivaldi, Corelli and Handel, and writers, Daniel Defoe and Jonathan Swift. Jonathan Swift, most famous for his book ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ was the Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin and a close friend of Carolan. On one occasion, Swift arranged an evening of music in the Deanery of St Patrick’s where a group of Italian musicians and Carolan were guests. Among these Italian guests was the prominent Italian violinist Francesco Geminiani (1667 – 1762) who lived in Dublin for several years c. 1733 – 1740. It is said that Carolan challenged the violinist to a test of musical skill and in response Geminiani performed Vivaldi’s Fifth Violin Concerto - La Tempesta di Mare. He would probably have played only the 1st or 3rd movements as they are both filled with rapid scale passages and therefore guaranteed to impress the gathering. It should be noted here that Carolan was then in his 60’s and was well acquainted with the Italian school of Vivaldi / Corelli, a fact that Geminiani was most likely not aware of. Some sources relating to this event mention that Geminiani made -several deliberate errors in the music hoping to have some fun at Carolan’s expense. The Italian guests probably looked upon Carolan as a blind unsophisticated musician, who would not be schooled in ‘music of good taste’. However, when he had finished playing, Carolan whispered to Swift in Irish – ‘’Tá sé air chois air bacaighe’’ – (Here and there it limps and stumbles), then, he took his harp in his hands and performed the same piece perfectly. It is possible that he already knew this work, but many say that his recall was so uniquely developed that he actually performed it after hearing it just once. The Italian gathering including Geminiani declared he was a genius and demanded an encore and in response he improvised his own concerto – and so was born the piece we now know as - Carolan’s Concerto.

Alan Grundy

  • Product: PDF or Print on Demand
  • Pages: 8 pages 
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Order number: BE-240108   
  • ISMN 979-0-706836-62-1

Listen to Arash Kazemi playing Carolan's Concerto:


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